Theatre review: The Stamping Ground – Eden Court, Inverness

First published in The Times, Friday July 22 2022

FOUR STARS

Increasingly, when a beloved band calls it a day, there is an afterlife for their work in the theatre. Granted, the jukebox musical can occasionally feel like the final nail in the coffin of an artist’s back catalogue, but this new show from Eden Court and Raw Material breathes compelling new life into songs by the Scottish rock outfit Runrig.

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Panto review: Cinderella – Perth Theatre

First published in The Times, Monday November 29 2021

FOUR STARS

“I’m a wee bit out of practice,” gasps dame Barrie Hunter, catching his breath and straightening his wig following a strenuous opening number, “it’s been a couple of years.” This moment of witty adlib contains more than a hint of poignancy. It’s hard to believe that two years have passed since audiences cheered and booed along to Perth’s pre-lockdown festive outing, Sinbad.

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Review: Arctic Oil – Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh

First published in The Times, Friday October 12 2018

Two Stars

It is fitting that Clare Duffy’s play should open in the week that the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned of catastrophic global warming unless governments, corporations and individuals take unprecedented action. Environmental activism, the fate of the planet and personal responsibility are the big themes Duffy has set out to explore here.

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Review: The Arabian Nights – Lyceum, Edinburgh

First published in The Times, Friday December 1 2017

Five Stars

A dramatic reimagining of The Arabian Nights is an intriguing departure from the usual seasonal theatrical fare, even if several of the tales featured in Suhayla El-Bushra’s witty, intricate adaptation – including those of Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, Aladdin and the tales of Sinbad the Sailor – are often discovered by young audiences in the form of Christmas shows.

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Review: Adam – Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh

First published in The Times, Wednesday August 9 2017

Three Stars

So much happens in this new show from the National Theatre of Scotland that it seems impossible that it only runs for 75 minutes. A loose companion piece to Jo Clifford’s Eve, which also debuts as part of this year’s Traverse festival programme, Adam charts an Egyptian transgender man’s early life, including his experience of homelessness, abuse, mental illness and self-harm, before he is reborn – in every sense – at the age of nineteen, in Scotland.

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Review: The Choir – Citizens Theatre, Glasgow

First published in The Times, Thursday November 5 2015

Four Stars

Talk about prescient. This new play with songs revolving around the members of a North Lanarkshire choir opened in the week Oxford University published a study suggesting that community singing can play a powerful role in reducing loneliness and promoting social cohesion.

The list of problems afflicting the characters in The Choir – book by Paul Higgins with music by Ricky Ross of Deacon Blue – is seemingly endless, touching upon mental illness and bereavement, unemployment, marital breakup and class tensions. The play’s message – there’s no heartache so great it can’t be solved by a rousing singsong – may sound facile, but it is communicated with such verve and commitment in Dominic Hill’s production that you end up forgiving the conventional sentimentality of the storytelling.

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